L’Escargot

I grew up knowing of paintings, and luckily having exposure to many other arts subliminally present during my childhood. I don’t paint myself, not because of lack of enjoyment,but rather time. It is the same reason I don’t play the piano; the passion for it would simply consume my whole day. There’s much to learn from the world of painting, which can be applied to the art of Magic, including its evolution of styles, ideas, and the artists themselves. The details of this parallel is a topic for another day.

As a medium between time management and my enjoyment of paintings, I attempt to include it into my work in Magic as much as possible. Which brings me to the process, development, and the presentation of the idea here in.

Several components came together to form the idea behind the routine. I refer to it as a symphony of thoughts creating a melodic image as the result.

The first one was my thoughts on using just a deck of cards, the need to interact better with my stage design, as well as the creation of stand-up material for smaller shows.

So I had the problem to solve. Let’s switch gears and go back into the world of painting. Henri Matisse has been one of my favorite artists for a very long time. His use of color, as it is popularly attributed to him, was something to admire and find inspiration from. It was joyful, it was energetic, and it expressed a feeling of life. I will admit, I draw a lot of my work from him and his work, but instead of listing the potpourri of ideas, I will let you discover them for yourself. Among all of his work, there was one transition that he made towards paper cutting, and one particular collage titled The Snail (L’Escargot), that began my exploration towards color.

The notebook had written, “come up with 100 ideas, and at least one ought to be good”. I believe this to be linked to Da Vinci somehow, but I’m not sure. It surely does apply to his work, but that is just my opinion.escargot

Well, this routine was created after all on several ideas coming together, and the goal being that all together form a brilliant colorful experience. So why not? Let’s talk about ideas. In particularly, how we gather many thoughts, refine them, and the end result being something great. A spiral of ideas where only the best reaches the center point!

So, I have the idea, the meaning, the goal. Now, what to do exactly? Well, I made it a bit of a personal goal to have a painting on my shows if possible. It makes me feel comfortable. You can see this on some of the pictures of the shows. So why not just make a painting, a stage prop per say, to fill that spot?

This touches the subject of inspiration, and original thought. I personally believe that there isn’t such thing as “100% original”, with everything having a root as it is clearly demonstrated in this post. Matisse and Picasso, the two contemporary geniuses, often times competed with each other. It is said that Picasso’s work is highly influenced by Matisse’s approach to color, and even the beginnings of Cubism to African Art. I’ll let the scholars of art discuss that one. Nonetheless, art has always had a sort of need to define and define one’s work as something. As my friend Marca one said to me, “why can’t it just be Art and that’s it?” She has a point, and one that I shared. Why define what is art and what is not? Just do it and create something great, an experience, something you need to do in order to say something that you can’t say in words or actions but only through art. So, as personal thought in this routine, mostly just for me and for you now that you know, I decided that the spiral had to be a Golden Ratio spiral (a logarithmic spiral with ratio of 1.61803). I had been working with another concept of proportions, something I might discuss in the future, so it was fresh in my mind. It was my way of staying within a frame, a rule, a proportion. A testament that despite forces wanting to put you in a box, art always creates a beam of light; the same feel I get when looking at a Matisse. This whole paragraph, and its tangent thought, is not meant for my audience to know. It is never expressed, and they are not meant to understand it either. It’s just a little bonus I added for me.

So I know I want a painting. Now it is time to talk Magic. What am I going to do?

I know three things:

1. It has to be stand-up

2. It has to be quick, with multiple phases perhaps but in a growing structure. Each phase transitioning into the next.

3. Has to work with color. Eureka! A color-changing deck! So let’s make a sequence of effects that lead to the grand finale of the deck changing color!

I won’t go into technical details, despite most magicians most likely preferring me doing that instead of talking of talking of all of the above. The reasons are obvious.

So construction began. About a week of design, and  two days of labor:

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The final part of this is taking it into the show. My friend Brad Henderson brought up the good point the painting being more of a set piece than actually part of the Magic (I’m paraphrasing here. He says things more eloquently). He is right. The current direction, or at least the attempt for, is to remake the whole painting but making it so that it is self-coloring. As the card is placed on the white canvas, the canvas paints itself. This makes sense, and the interaction with the painting makes it a bit more than just a set piece. Other ideas have been created, but at the moment the current presentation remains:

The show opens and all the lights are out. Just whatever is necessary for them to see me. Something like this perhaps, but with front light instead of light straight above:

DQF_2113

Each venue is different, so the design on the lighting changes slightly. In any case, it’s supposed to be dull and boring.

I go ahead and do my opener, which is always focused on the Magic, the performer in relation to the audience’s participation, and to establish a rhythm and tone for the show. The handful of routines I assigned for this are designed to create Attention and Interest (Fascination). They always end up with people’s attention focused in one small area of space, and then getting “an explosion” reaction from it. That’s just my preference.

The stage lighting  is all off still. The Magic has been established, so let’s move on to creating more experiences. The projector screen is on, the routine develops to that final moment when the entire deck changes to one of different colors. The crescendo in the music being played arrives.  As soon as the entire deck of cards is placed into the plexi glass container, with that final card dramatically dropped, the entire stage illuminates and turns into this:

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In the picture above, the lighting from the truss is not on. It is also a bit darker than it actually is. It is really bright and breathtaking when it is all on. That was the point. Color, energy, life.

Final thoughts

I don’t know…it’s just the thing I do.

Well, that’s just it. I don’t know if this is “right” or “wrong” for the art of Magic. I know for sure MANY, especially Magicians, will completely hate this. That’s what makes us different I suppose. I just do what I do, and trying to make it the best I can. 

Why did I post this? Well, in a way to show some of the thoughts that go behind the shows as a few of my clients have asked about the process. They’ve seen the shows, continue to hire me for their events, but have always been intrigued with my work. That to me is a blessing.

I guess I posted it also for Magicians to look at, think about, and get to know a bit more about me. You see, I’ve only shown them tricks and techniques, which only make for a fraction of the work I’m proud of. I’m proud of this mostly because it deals in a personal level, with my enjoyment of paintings, of Magic, and in giving my audience unique experiences. I hope I was able to provide that to you in this post